Thursday, 11 December 2008
Dáil Eireann Debate
212. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps taken by his Department on foot of spraying of road side verges at the N52, N51 and parts of the M3 in May 2008 with the pesticide 2,4-D; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45843/08]
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Deputy John Gormley): Under Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts, the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction by other means of vegetation growing on uncultivated land or in hedges or ditches is prohibited during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife, from 1 March to 31 August. This is subject to certain specific exceptions. In most instances, it is required by law that work to hedgerows is carried out outside this period. However, it is accepted that in some cases, trimming may be necessary, during the prohibited period, on grounds of public health and safety, notably when new road hazards are detected that require hedge trimming or vegetation clearance. Local authorities and relevant public bodies are reminded annually of their responsibilities in this regard.
I was seriously concerned in relation to the spraying of road verges in May 2008 by Meath County Council. My Department’s National Parks and Wildlife Service has initiated a prosecution under the Wildlife Acts against both Meath County Council and the Company which carried out the spraying for the Council, and I understand that a date for the hearing of the case will be set in March, 2009.
On foot of the County Meath incident my Department issued a circular at the end of May, 2008 reminding all local authorities that extensive, untargeted spraying of road verges with herbicide is, prima facie, an offence under Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts, and it is my policy to prosecute in such cases.
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